Big Red Invitational jump starts annual Power Drive competition

March 28, 2014

Columbus, Neb. – It may not be staged on the high-speed, banked tracks of NASCAR. And it doesn’t have horsepower of the Indianapolis 500, but for numerous high school teams it is an opportunity to put their work on the racetrack in the 17th annual Power Drive competition that begins a five-week run on April 5.

High school teams from Nebraska and neighboring states are back this spring to compete in a series of endurance rallies, culminating in the Power Drive Championships the first weekend of May. This annual competition is sponsored by the Omaha Public Power District and the Nebraska Public Power District.

The initial Power Drive competition of the spring begins April 5, with the Big Red Invitational on the East Campus at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Competition begins at 11:30 a.m. and will conclude at 2 p.m. with the awards presentation. Similar competitions will be held in Hastings April 12; in Grand Island April 19 with the Drive Safe Challenge; and April 26 in West Point with the Cumming County Open.

The series will culminate at Werner Park in LaVista where the Power Drive Championships will be held on Saturday, May 2.

The Power Drive program gives high school students hands-on experience building a safe, energy-efficient electric vehicle. Teams have designed and built electric-powered vehicles during the school year. After building their vehicles, student drivers test their creations against other teams in several categories: braking ability, endurance, maneuverability and overall design/construction.

Through Power Drive, student participants learn:

  • practical application of math and science skills;
  • automotive design, engineering and construction;
  • industrial, electrical and mechanical skills;
  • electric vehicle history and current technology; and
  • teamwork, problem solving and fun.

Elkhorn is the defending champion in the Standard Class followed in 2013 by Columbus Lakeview, Bancroft-Rosalie, Raymond Central, and Beatrice. Wayne was the overall champion in the Advanced Class followed by Elkhorn, Raymond Central, Bancroft-Rosalie, and Cedar Rapids Kennedy from Iowa.

A combination of the competitive endurance rally, design engineering, and documentation supplied by each competing school determines the winners at the finals. Points are awarded in each category of Standard, Advanced and Exhibition, and combined to tally a final score.

Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) began offering the Power Drive program to high schools in its service territory in 1998. Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) became a partner in 1999 and began encouraging schools in the central and western parts of the state to participate. In addition to high schools, several Nebraska colleges have developed Power Drive teams that compete in the Exhibition Class. Programs similar to Power Drive are currently operating in 28 states.

The complete 2014 Power Drive Schedule is as follows:

  • Saturday, April 5 – Big Red Invitational, East Campus – University of Nebraska, Lincoln – Competition begins at 11:30 a.m. with awards at 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 12 – Hastings, Motorsports Park, Hastings – Competition begins at 10:00 a.m. with awards at 1:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 19 – Drive Safe Challenge, Law Enforcement Training Center, Grand Island. Competition starts at 11:30 a.m. with the awards presentation at 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 26 – Cuming County Open, Cuming County Fairgrounds, West Point. Competition begins at 10 a.m. and awards at 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 3 – Power Drive Championships, Werner Park, LaVista. Three heats of competition begin at 10 a.m. with the awards presentation at 2 p.m.

A list of Power Drive participating schools can be found at  To keep updated on activities, “like” the Power Drive Facebook page at

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